A Q&A with Junction’s Tony Glazer and Summer Crockett Moore
By Doug Strassler
In Junction, the new film written and directed by Tony Glazer, a group of strangers converge to rob a house and help feed their meth addiction – only to find the tables very much turned on them in the first of what turn out to be a series of harrowing twists. The film’s opening marks a major career milestone for on-the-rise entertainment industry power couple Glazer and Summer Crockett Moore (he writes and directs, she acts; together, they produce). New York Press spoke with the couple about working together, the importance of meetings, “meth face” and that other show about meth users.
NYP: Tony, where exactly did the idea for this script come from?
TG: Unlike other stories I’ve written, the idea for Junction came from several places almost simultaneously. I knew, even before I began writing, that budget (i.e. a very low one) was going to be a determining factor so, from the outset, I began to think of the story as “self-contained” and having very few locations. While those parameters were locking into place, I had my first real exposure with meth addiction through a friend who had to go into a drug rehabilitation facility because of it. Two things really shocked me: How ravaging methamphetamine abuse is and how little I actually knew about the drug. (i.e. the permanent damage it can cause, the low recovery rate, how it actually operates). When I first began writing Junction (in the fall of 2005) there wasn’t a lot about meth use out there in film and television (this was before Breaking Bad) and so I knew I wanted the central characters to be suffering from meth addiction.
On a separate note, I had always wanted to write a story about some of my experiences growing up in South Florida. Ft. Lauderdale, because it’s a beach town, is not immediately known for having a dark side – you think beaches and tourism. You think colors and sun. But like every town, a dark side is always present and that was something I wanted to scratch at. I wanted Junction to take place in an area that, at first look, presented one way but on closer inspection revealed something dark, almost unimaginable. Finally, there was a court case that Summer and I were following at the time and that we were considering a making documentary about until the case was sealed. There were elements about that case (that I won’t mention here due to spoilers) that were so shocking to me that they also found their way into the plot. All of these elements ultimately influenced what would become Junction.
NYP: Summer, how would you best describe your character? What was the way in to playing her?
SCM: My character, Kari, is a girl who has lost herself. She looks to the people around her to give her value and worth, and unfortunately, she has found herself amidst people who are equally lost, so there is no one to take charge and help right her situation. There are many little glimpses into characters in this film and one of the key moments in the screenplay for me is a scene where Kari finds herself in the room of the little girl who lives in the house that they are breaking into. It is a quiet moment, and one that breaks my heart, because seeing Kari (who is dirty and strung out) against the backdrop of the clean, bright room full of innocence, dramatically illustrates the toll her choices are taking on her, and reminds us that once she was a little girl with a bright future ahead of her. It is so sad, and it is one of the reasons I find it so easy to attach to the meth-addicts in this film, because they are all good people who made really bad choices. You just hope that they can pull it together and have another chance to gather their lives.
The way in for me to Kari, was to sink a bit into the part of myself that also looks to others for self-worth. It is a part of myself that I like to hide away, and keep in a little box, because she is a needy, scared little girl. And, the thought of what could happen to her if she fell into the wrong hands – if I let her be taken advantage of – well, it instantly brings up many different levels of anger, sadness, rage, and a will to fight. That was the jumping off point for Kari in this story. Kari is loyal to a fault, so that was something for me to hold onto – a bright light in a pool of darkness.
SCM: Honestly, I would be so exhausted after a full day of shooting, and then an hour or two more in my production office each evening after our daily wrap, that by the time I had washed my face – taking off the many layers of meth makeup, and gotten all the dirt out of my hair – would literally be asleep by the time my face planted into my pillow, preparing for the next 4:30am call time. (Note to self: shooting in the middle of winter means way too little daylight!) So, really, it wasn’t until I started watching the footage in post-production that the full weight of what we had explored really hit me. It is really haunting. And I love it.
TG: (joking) We have a home office so I tend to take everything home. But seriously, I think it’s best to find a time where you put these things down and leave it there. The perspective you get is invaluable for when you pick it back up. Sometimes you can only learn something about a project you’re working on by being away from it.
NYP: What were the biggest challenges that came along with the filming, for each of you?
TG: Each level of making this film had specific challenges that were equal to the others in intensity – just different. Post-production was particularly challenging in some ways because we made decisions in production that required additional work once we got into post that we hadn’t planned on: sound issues, color correction, etc. The one phrase that I will never again take lightly is, “Don’t worry; we’ll fix that in post.” That said, in the end, the most challenging aspect of filmmaking tends to be the question I’m asked the most: “Where did you find your money for the film?” Finding someone (or in our case, a group of independent investors) who will believe in your vision enough to write a check is incredibly difficult. Summer and I went to a lot of meetings over a three-year period – meeting people, talking to people, pitching them. Even though Junction operated on a modified low-budget, it’s still a significant amount of money and I feel lucky to have found a group of investors that have been this supportive and believed this much in what we were trying to do. But it’s a challenge to find those people and the only answer I have for people when they ask that question is: “Never say no to a meeting – any meeting.” It is good to meet everyone you can – all the obvious investors that normally invest in a film and when you’re through meeting those people, meet people that don’t normally invest in film but are interested in it.
SCM: My biggest production challenge – after I got over the fact that we decided to shoot a film with multiple exteriors in the middle of winter – was that even though everyone knows that during production you are going to run into some problems somewhere, when they would arise, I wanted to have a total game face on at all times, so none of the other actors would be concerned that I wasn’t fully in “actor” mode. I got really good at leaving my cell phone in my production office, and having the best assistant a woman could ask for ONLY raise the red flag to me while I was on set under the most dire of circumstances (which were very few). Honestly, pre-production and production went amazingly smoothly, and we wrapped on time and on-budget — which, in hindsight seems like a miracle for a first time feature filmmaker when you have a cast and crew of up to 100 people! I think the most challenging part of the entire process for me was the fundraising years. It literally took three years to raise the capital for the film, one drinks meeting at a time, and finally, when we had it raised, it was like … oh wait … that was only step ONE. Better lace up the marathon shoes because now it is gonna get real.
NYP: How often have the two of you worked together — especially when you, Summer, were being directed by your husband? And how was it different being directed by him for the screen versus for the stage?
SCM: Our production company is officially 12 years old this year, so we have worked together on tons of projects over the years. Granted, most of those were plays or short films, but being in the trenches together while producing the feature, felt completely natural and easy. I have to say, the reason for that is, Tony and I rarely disagree over something big. There are lots of little elements of taste, and while we may have intense negotiations on the production side of things, I always trust him as my director, and that basic element of trust overrides any other concerns. And when I work with Tony as a director, he is my director – not my husband. It becomes very easy to separate the two, because I find him to be a complete thrill to work with on many levels. He really is an actors’ director, and I have to quote him here, because this is a great way to explain it. He will say to an actor: “You know, I wrote the script, and I created the characters, so I know where the bodies are buried. So come to me if you need help with the WHAT. But you are the HOW.” Working with him on stage vs. film didn’t feel that different to me, because we had a rehearsal process for this film. You knew that you were in good hands, and that he had your back, and would hold your hand when you had to go to those really dark and scary places. And he would always tell me I was pretty, meth face and all – a girl always likes to hear that.
TG: I trust Summer implicitly on things. She is an amazingly talented actor/producer. We are a great team and have very similar tastes about the kind of work we’d both like to do so it’s a great fit, professionally – which I think is the key here: when we work together it’s exclusively professional (neither of us play the “husband/wife” card) and, as a result, it’s served us both very well. It’s a very lucky, very rare kind of partnership that we have.
NYP: Junction includes such recognizable actors as Michael O’Keefe, Tom Pelphrey, Anthony Rapp, and David Zayas. How were you able to corral such a seasoned cast?
TG: We had a great casting director, Pat McCorkle, who was instrumental to that end. I spent a lot of time talking with her about the characters and the need for well-seasoned actors. (This is a performance-driven piece) Pat brought in great actors and, in the end, it was tough not because we couldn’t find the right one but because we had so many great ones from which to choose.
NYP: What would each of you most hope audiences take away from Junction?
TG: I don’t mean this in a pessimistic way, but I’ve come to realize that people will always take different things from works and so I’ve given up on hoping they take certain things away from mine. That said, for me, the film is about two things: perception and choice. It’s about how easily we can make snap judgments about something (or someone) based on our initial assessments only to discover we had it wrong, sometimes with dire consequences. So there’s a cautionary element here.
The second thing (and perhaps this is whetted to the pitfalls of failed perceptions) is that Junction is a film, for me, about people living in the wake of their choices. So it’s less about the actual things that got them there and more about how they cope (or not cope) in the wake of it. Lt. Tarelli (played by Zayas) has his own point of trauma [stemming from] choice. With him it revolves around a shooting (prior to the film’s start) where he made the wrong decision that resulted in the death of a little girl and he carries that around with him. It breaks him down in the same way the choice to use meth has broken down the drug addicts in the film. So choice and perception are what it comes down to with me but if someone takes away something else, well, that’s just fine.
SCM: I hope that people will take a look at the film, and the characters, and consider the cost of the choices a person makes. Consider the domino effect and chain reaction of a bad decision. But that there are so many moments in life, where a choice has been made, and there are always chances to right a wrong, or soothe a hurt, or say you are sorry, or tell someone you love them. You just have to be present enough in the moment to stop, consider the choices … and then do the next right thing.
Junction opens at Quad Cinema on Friday, November 15.
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